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Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 17:55

Disqualified lawmakers Leung and Yau arrested

By Willa Wu
Disqualified lawmakers Leung and Yau arrested
Disqualified lawmakers Leung Chung-hang (left) and Yau Wai-ching speak to the media outside a police station in Hong Kong after being released on bail hours into their arrest, on April 26, 2017. (Kin Cheung / AP)

HONG KONG – Two disqualified separatist lawmakers-elect Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching were arrested by the Hong Kong police on Wednesday on charges of unlawful assembly and attempted forced entry following their efforts to force their way into a Legislative Council meeting in November.

Hours after their arrest they were released in the afternoon on bail of HK$3,000 (US$386) each. The pair is expected to appear in Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Three of the pair’s assistants were also arrested on Wednesday.

Under the Public Order Ordinance, unlawful assembly carries a maximum punishment of five years’ imprisonment, while attempted forced entry carries a penalty of a HK$5,000 fine and a maximum two-year jail term.

Lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the city’s biggest political party - the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, welcomed the police taking action in accordance with the law.

She added that the pair’s attempted entry, which had caused injuries, had violated the law and was not protected by the LegCo’s Powers and Privileges Ordinance.

The Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance grants several privileges and immunity to legislators including being immune from legal proceedings on words spoken during a LegCo meeting, as well as freedom from being arrested while being in the LegCo building.

Barrister and lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun also supported the arrest. She described their forcible entry was “unprecedented” as it had done harm to security guards who were supposed to maintain order inside LegCo. She stressed that what the pair had done had already gone beyond the Powers and Privileges Ordinance.

At LegCo’s inaugural meeting on Oct 12 last year the separatist duo sparked widespread criticism for using foul language to insult the Chinese nation and making pro-independence remarks while taking their oaths.

Following public outrage, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Department of Justice sought a judicial review, arguing the pair should not be given a second chance to take the oath as lawmakers.

They were then denied entry to the following week’s meeting, at which they had planned to retake their oaths. As they and their assistants forced their way in, six security staff members were injured.

The unprecedented incident led the National People’s Congress Standing Committee – the country’s top legislature – to issue an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law, clarifying the implications and requirements of oath-taking by Hong Kong legislators-elect.

The Hong Kong High Court, on Nov 15, disqualified them for violating the Basic Law and local laws.

Later on Nov 30, the Court of Appeal rejected the appeal of the duo and upheld the High Court ruling that disqualified them and vacated their seats in LegCo.

The duo filed a final appeal to the Court of Final Appeal earlier this year. The appeal will be heard in August.

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